Driving revenue growth: 12 killer strategies for startups & SMBs
Every founder has experienced this: You launch a great product to fill a specific yet pressing need. You're confident the market needs it, and many jump at the opportunity.
Prospects jump on board and sign up for a free trial in droves. The interest indicates driving revenue growth should be easy.
But it doesn't happen.
You're generating leads by the truckload, but your sales team can't seem to close them. Your success team reports incredible churn rates.
What can you do to turn things around and drive revenue growth? In this article we'll look at 12 proven strategies to help you boost revenue.
Automate to elevate
Nothing beats automation in creating efficient sales and marketing processes. Sadly, not many companies harness the power of automation tools to reduce repetitive sales and marketing tasks.
Administrative maintenance tasks and repetitive busy work in sales and marketing are tedious. They lend themselves well to automation.
But it's not enough to automate. You must identify what can (and should) be automated to maximize the benefits.
Ironically, many salespeople and marketers dread automation—they're afraid it'll render them jobless. But the truth is: automation and human specialization complement each other to improve job satisfaction.
Automation handles the tedious, repetitive tasks that computers do best. That frees up their time to focus on higher priority tasks—the kind of work that people do best and enjoy doing.
Setting up intelligent email sequences is the most efficient way to elevate your sales team. It supercharges their ability to engage, nurture, and convert both warm and cold leads – driving revenue growth. Automation tools come with dashboards that allow you to create automated reports. They make it easy to track progress, identify strengths and weaknesses while creating room for iterations.
Customer.io, an email automation tool, was able to automate many of the early stages of their sales process: lead scoring, lead assignment, separating self-serve signups from those that require sales assistance, and even the handoff to AE team after they switched to a CRM with powerful sales automation features.
Create scalable structures
A solid sales team is at the heart of your revenue growth effort. That means creating winning playbooks to elevate everyone's ability to pull in sales. If you want a team that's truly scalable, it's better to create sales playbooks that everyone can follow, rather than trying to hire or create sales rockstars. Create templates, scripts, and sales processes for everyone to follow.
Have everyone on the team internalize and master the basics. But also encourage them to experiment and improvise, so your sales process is continually evolving to incorporate new material.
Documenting your sales process and training is crucial to creating world-class sales teams and ultimately driving revenue growth. Typically, you should have a script for each target audience and an in-depth objections management document.
Don't try to make the perfect copy and script right off the bat. Create a rough draft and revise it regularly, at least once a month, to include new insights.
Designing your sales process from scratch and infusing it with repeatable steps is key to your scaling ability. Break down each step into components to identify strengths and weaknesses. Experiment with one element each week to gain deeper insights. With time, you'll create a bulletproof sales process that you can replicate at scale.
Don't forget to coach and train your sales reps and make them part of the iterative process.
Build a remote sales powerhouse
This particular strategy is very important in driving revenue growth because remote teams are the future of the sales industry, and the trend has been on the rise for many years. The pandemic only accelerated this shift.
Many big-name brands like Twitter, Facebook, and Shopify have made the transition, making it clear that the future belongs to the companies that have truly mastered remote sales.
Take charge and start building your remote sales team today. The shift to a remote working environment presents a few challenges that must be addressed.
Companies must rethink their hiring process, company culture, and critical job requirements. Additional training, coaching, and new technology is necessary to create a remote sales powerhouse—and the results speak for themselves. The Sales Transformation Group was able to grew MRR by a factor of 5 in 2020 (when many businesses struggled due to the impact of the pandemic) after switching to a remote sales CRM!
Empower your team with the right tools
Tools have historically played a crucial role in human evolution. Humanity has long sought to build better tools to improve chances of survival.
The ability to build tools to fill the most pressing needs is the cornerstone of civilization. Technology has come a long way since then and shows no signs of stopping.
The situation is not any different today. The workplace environment is rapidly changing. It calls on companies to arm their workers with the right tools to thrive in a dynamic market. Having the right tools gives you the competitive edge you need to increase productivity in driving revenue growth.
When selecting tools for your team, make sure to involve your team into the process. This doesn't mean that decision by committee is the best way to go—in fact, oftentimes you'll fare better if one person is responsible for making the the final call. But do gather their input at various stages in the process. The team at NatureBox for example found out that choosing a CRM which wasn't a good fit for their agile sales approach cost them a lot of money and time—and switching to a system that better matched their sales workflow helped the sales team increase revenue, while also improving their job satisfaction.
Luckily, there's a bevy of tools to help your teams thrive in the new work environment. From customer relationship management software to scheduling tools to project management tools like Asana or Trello, you're spoiled for choice.
Need to share a quick video or screencast? Hop on Loom, and you're done in minutes. There's a tool for every business process you need to automate and improve productivity, and remote sales tools for every kind of use case are sprouting up left and right.
Manage your leads effectively
Successful teams are continually generating, nurturing, and converting leads. Most teams thrive on the first two but drop the ball on the third, causing sales to fall through the cracks.
If your sales representatives generate but fail to nurture a lead, it grows cold, and the sale is lost. Reps should follow up on each lead promptly to increase conversion. The quality of leads also matters a lot. Your conversion rates tie closely to the quality of leads your reps are reaching out to.
Having a reliable sales pipeline management solution is key to managing leads and increasing conversion. It affords you a chance to develop a concrete strategy and automate your lead generation so you can accelerate sales.
ChartMogul, a subscription analytics platform, was able to convert more than 1,000 additional leads to customers after they switched to a more effective sales pipeline management tool.
Align sales, success, and marketing
As your organization grows, it's easier for your sales, success, and marketing teams to become misaligned. Each unit is more likely to focus on setting and achieving its own goals.
They're likely to forget that they're parts of a bigger entity. Marketing generates the leads, and sales closes them while customer success works to improve retention. Every team has their own KPIs. Their performance will be evaluated based on how well they hit these KPIs. Each team then often has people who own different KPIs which contribute to the overall team KPI. It's no wonder that the individual team members will be most focused on moving the KPI they're personally responsible for, and which will influence their own annual review and their trajectory within the company.
However, what gets lost is that ultimately, they're just key performance indicators, and that indicators are simply a way to measure how much value a certain function contributed for the overall company. But this gets lost in real life, and it often creates unintended consequences. In the worst cases, people will find creative ways to hit their numbers. A more common example is though that individuals will have to make choices between doing what they believe to be right for the overall company, and doing what will improve their personal KPI. In general they are aligned, but even with well-chosen KPIs there's a mismatch sometimes.
Should marketing deliver poor leads, conversion rates will tank. If sales close too many poor leads, customer success drops, and there's too much churn. Aligning all the teams gets their focus on what matters – customer experience. It gets them moving away from the blame game and vanity metrics to working together to achieve common goals.
Create a culture of accomplishment
Your revenue will grow if you simply focus on getting shit done. There's a stark difference between keeping busy and achieving goals. While important, administrative tasks don't count towards your revenue growth.
Find ways to free up your time and focus on activities geared towards revenue growth. That includes learning to say no.
Learn to say no to potential loss-making deals disguised as growth opportunities. Stick to your guns and say no to discount requests, feature requests, unsuitable candidates, and anything not aligned to your goals.
Founders often diminish employee accomplishments and create productivity bottlenecks. It results when you micromanage your team or require them to consult you on every tiny detail.
Micromanaging denies workers autonomy and waters down their contribution. Trust your team to handle some issues and create a sound strategy to break this productivity bottleneck.
Give your team what they need to close deals with solid sales enablement resources
Closing leads boils down to preparation. How well does your team know the prospect? How familiar are they with the products? How do they handle objections? How good is the opening pitch or email subject line?
Furnish your team with as much data and information they need to close a lead. Provide them with whitepapers, case studies, documentation, and cold email templates.
Surprisingly, scripting a sales pitch can boost your sales. Create the first draft but keep it in a constant state of refinement. Update it each week to include insights and effective phrases. Account for every scenario while allowing the team the creative freedom they need to close sales.
Incentivize your team to succeed
Properly managed, internal competition is an incredible way to bolster individual performance. Sales leaderboards make it easy to ignite the competitive fire in each team member.
The board showcases individual results and will galvanize employees to push themselves harder. Better yet, you can see where team members are shining and struggling. You can then take any corrective measures to improve performance.
Besides the recognition, employees thrive on incentives. Sales incentives boost employee engagement because they come with personal gains. A carefully constituted sales incentive program appeals and motivates your team to bring their A-game.
Tangible rewards such as cash bonuses, product rewards, subscription boxes, and extra time off are popular incentives. Rather than impose, have the employee participate in choosing the reward program.
Hold fewer, shorter, better meetings with fewer people
Meetings can be a terrible waste of time. Too many meetings destroy motivation and morale besides keeping workers from productive work. To avoid lengthy and unproductive meetings, calculate how much it costs to keep your entire team in a room for an hour.
Does the meeting justify the lost revenue? If not, it's time to rethink how you hold meetings.
For the best results, clearly define the purpose of each meeting and the parties concerned ahead of time. Create an objective agenda and share it with them ahead of time. That allows people to research and get prepared for the meeting.
Keep the daily meetings sharp, short, and focused, and preferably under 10 minutes. Allow up to 45 minutes for meetings with complicated agendas. Always have someone steward each session to drive the conversation and avoid derailment.
There's 5 questions you should have clear answers to before you even schedule a meeting:
- What’s the goal of this meeting?
- How brief can I make this meeting?
- Who needs to be at this meeting?
- How much will this meeting cost?
- Do we really need to meet?
Lastly, inject a bit of fun and novelty into your meetings. Inject some physical activity, have people sing or dramatize their presentation, anything to break the monotony.
Double down on what works to drive revenue growth
There's a natural inclination to keep busy while at work. It's easy to think you had a productive day because you were engaged the entire day. However, it's more important to quantify your results instead of the work done. Only then can you identify the productive processes from the run-of-the-mill tasks.
With that, you can double down on the activities that bolster the ability to generate revenue.
Do more of what's already working, rather than trying to figure out new channels. If you're currently generating 1,000 leads a month with cold calling, it's very likely that you can grow that number to 1,500 leads a month much faster by investing in scaling up your cold calling efforts, rather than by getting started with other channels, like content marketing or social ads. That's not to say you shouldn't diversify—but start diversifying once you've really nailed one channel, and maxed out its potential.
Startup accelerator Newchip for example was able to triple their outreach volume simply by implementing a CRM with built in phone dialer and email sequence features. They'll see revenue growth much faster from that than they'd see if they'd instead focused on figuring out how to make social media work for them.
Such insights are critical to the push towards automation. You can get to figure out the type of technology and solutions necessary to take them over. That leaves your team free to do more of what's already working to drive revenue growth.
Driving revenue growth is often challenging for startups and SMBs that take their eyes off the ball. Paying closer attention to your sales process can help your efforts to generate revenue. Channeling growth starts by embracing automation to free up your team from boring, tedious work. Creating a smooth sales process, then property training and coaching your team through it sets the ball rolling.
Ultimately, revenue growth hinges on your ability to build an effective sales team to scale your efforts. Given the intricacies of building an effective team in a dynamic market environment, this can prove challenging. Download our sales resource collection and set about streamlining your ability to create a winning team and grow revenue.